Taurine is an organic amino acid that is most talked about as part of the feline diet. Unlike dogs, humans and most other mammals, cats cannot synthesize their own taurine from the other building block amino acids because they don’t have high enough levels of certain enzymes. So, they must get taurine directly from their food sources.
What happens if cats don’t get enough taurine?
Taurine is essential for vision, immune health, cardiac muscle function and nervous and reproductive system function. Prolonged deficiency of taurine can lead to retinal degeneration, resulting in blindness. Dilated cardiomyopathy is another real risk. In this condition, the heart dilates, its walls become thinner and weaker, making the heart less effective and potentially leading to heart failure.
How much taurine does your kitty need?
We find taurine almost exclusively in meat, fish and seafood and the highest and most bio-available amounts will be found in raw meat. Cooking destroys 50-65% of it! The standard taurine used in cat food is 60 – 80 mg per day’s serving. Raw chicken and beef based diets contain about 30 – 50 mg of taurine per day’s serving. Cooked meat contains 12 – 35mg. It is estimated that the wild feline diet contains only 25-50 mg per day and most studies show that this amount is sufficient.
Here is a rough idea of how much taurine is in protein sources:
Beef muscle 10 mg per 28 mg (1ounce) raw
Beef liver 5.5 mg per 28 mg raw
Lamb 13.5 mg per 28 mg raw
Chicken 9.5mg per 28 mg raw
Fish 36mg per 28 mg raw
Shrimp 48mg per 28 mg raw
As mentioned above, cut the amount by 1/2 to 2/3 if cooked.
Taurine is not stored by cats and would be very difficult to overdose. With this in mind, if you think your cat may not be getting enough, you could supplement with taurine and your cat will eliminate what it doesn’t need.